Wall Psychologies

March 10, 2011

Another Normal Life Secured

Against the Wall – Michael Sorkin

There are two types of walls in the world; those for keeping people out, and those for keeping people in, or so there used to be. Sorkin’s essay discusses the wall being constructed in the West Bank by the Israelis, a wall the Israelis justify in terms of security. They say it’s needed to keep Palestinian Terrorists out of Jewish settlements. But as Sorkin points out, the wall functions as much more than a pure security device. It snakes its way along the divide reaching in to the West Bank to capture Jewish settlements and increase the size of Israel (Sorkin p. x). If public safety was really the sole reasoning behind the wall then a straight wall in the manner of the 1949 armistice ‘Green Line’ would be easier to secure. A third type of wall now exists, and it’s intentions are much more offensive. This is a wall that isn’t just about ignoring the existence of it’s neighbour, but actually denying its neighbours right to exist. By protecting Israeli citizens on foreign land it becomes an attack wall.

But this has never been admitted by the Israeli authorities, and because it hasn’t its psychological impacts are pushed below the surface, becoming much more hazy. Effectively it creates a nation living in denial with entire infrastructural projects that connect Jewish settlements going out of their way to avoid servicing Palestinians (Sorkin p. xv). It also raises larger questions within the Israeli populous about the legitimacy of the neighbouring nation, which surely couldn’t help the process towards peace. The psychology of a clearer divide abiding by the Green Line would be much more straight forward. Although it would be extremely blunt, perhaps it would draw blunt responses from the people of both sides and could actually help towards future peace. It would acknowledge that both nations have populations that live on the other’s land and as a result it would require a shift in Israel’s attitude toward Palestine from an attitude of ‘oppressors’ and ‘aliens’ to one of mutual disagreement.



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